Pubdate: Tue, 03 Apr 2012
Source: Livingston County Daily Press & Argus (MI)
Copyright: 2012 Livingston Daily Press & Argus
Author: Bill Laitner


With a stack of petitions in his car, Tom Tucker went straight from 
his overnight shift last week to stand outside the Royal Oak post 
office with a clipboard.

"Do you what to sign a petition to legalize marijuana?" Tucker asked 
as people filed past.

Don Jones, a professional photographer, signed right away.

"We voted on (medical marijuana), and now the big shots keep dreaming 
up ways to stop us from using it," said Jones, 62, of Pleasant Ridge.

So did 19-year-old Jasmine Hunt of Troy.

"I feel like, if I get caught with marijuana, it will ruin a lot of 
my plans. But it helps my anxiety," said the Oakland Community College student.

Royal Oak attorney Dave Wolock, 67, hesitated.

"I need to do more thinking before I'll sign," said the retired Wayne 
County assistant prosecutor. "I'll grant you - the authorities have 
not been responsible as far as implementing the statute. That's 
forcing these people to go back to the ballot."

The new push for outright legalization of pot in Michigan comes just 
four years after voters approved its use for medical purposes - a law 
that led to numerous arrests of state-registered users while 
authorities complain that it is too vague and promotes drug dealing.

Outside the post office, Tim Keenan, 50, of Royal Oak wouldn't sign.

"I don't know if it should be totally legal. How would it be 
controlled?" asked Keenan, who sells church supplies.

Tucker persisted, snagging 25 signatures in two hours.

"I only use it maybe two times a month," said Tucker, 61, a baker at 
Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak and a state-registered medical 
marijuana patient who said he has pain from breaking his back twice. 
"I just don't think it should be so hard to get, and dangerous to try 
to get it."

Tucker is one of about 2,500 volunteers statewide gathering 
signatures, said organizers of the petition campaign to make pot 
legal in Michigan. They must gather 322,609 signatures by July 8 to 
get their proposal on Michigan's November ballot. Their hope is that 
voters will approve this the way state residents ap-proved the 
medical marijuana proposal in 2008, with 63 percent yes votes.

Opponents have said little about the campaign, but they're waiting to 
see how far it goes, said Judy Rubin of Huntington Woods, leader of a 
youth substance-abuse-prevention group called the Tri-Community Coalition.

"I don't see it passing. Do we really want another harmful substance 
available to our youth and everyone else? I just feel we have enough 
problems, dealing with alcohol, and we're doing a pretty poor job 
with that," Rubin said.

So far, the legalization effort counted only 15,000 signatures and 
received just $10,000 in donations, organizers said. But this weekend 
in Ann Arbor, they are hoping for fresh momentum. At the 41st annual 
Hash Bash on Saturday, hundreds of volunteers will converge with what 
organizers hope will be tens of thousands of new signatures they 
gathered in recent weeks. Then they hope to recruit hundreds of new 
volunteers to fan out across Michigan.

Hash Bash "might be the only time we can get a lot of new volunteers 
from all over the state," said Christeen Landino, 62, of Eastpointe, 
treasurer for the Committee for a Safer Michigan - the group behind 
the push for legalization.

Landino said she is one of countless medical marijuana users who 
decided that full legalization was necessary because Michigan 
authorities made it hard for patients to get the drug.

The group clearly needs more donations, "but it's going to get a lot 
easier to get signatures as the weather warms up," said Matt Abel, 
53, a Detroit attorney who heads the campaign.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom